Wednesday, September 15th, 1869

Dear Diary,

Yesterday, I sailed. By accident, or perhaps not, I found myself sailing south. I am sure it can come as no surprise to you that I ended up in Austral. I then made a complete idiot of myself. Accomplished sailor and swimmer that I am — a regular mermaid from my earliest days according to Papa — my foot fell short of Micheal’s dock as I hopped from my ship. Splash! Down I went, sunk like a stone thanks to my endless layers of crinoline and petticoats. Three times I attempted to rise, and three times my head struck wood as the dock held me below. By the time I finally reached dry land, I looked (and felt) rather like a drowned rat.

Michael had noticed the thrashing about near his dock and come to investigate. So much for a graceful knock upon his front door. I had hoped to make a friendly visit. Instead, I tromped sludge and sediment onto his carpets and then sat, positively dripping, upstairs by the fire rather down in the parlor as would have been proper. Mortification seems too slight a word to describe my feelings. My hair dripped. My eyes burned. My cheeks shone ruddy from the exertion. so there I sat, my clothing puddling and pooling upon Micheal’s new leather sofa, and attempted to make polite chit chat with the man of my affections. I had to lift the brim of my now floppy hat up from my face even to see him! Oh, dear; I am certain that I looked a fright.

He, of course, seemed perfectly delighted with my presence, drowned rat or no. He dried my jacket by the fire and made no over-scrupulous fuss when I asked him to add the hat and then shook my hair free. Despite the lateness of the hour, we passed the evening in pleasant conversation. I finally prevailed upon him to talk about his past! At last, the topic of the island was broached with little discomfort. He spoke with affection of his father and siblings, of the local economy, of culture and dress. I listened eagerly, drinking it all in. Bits of Michael lore. I wish I could have known him then, back before so much loss burdened his heart.

I have never been so foolish as to think that I might marry for love, but…

No. I shall not even entertain that notion. Besides, he has not asked.

Oh! And there is some nonsense about the East Zindra Trade Company and the Russians. So blissful was my evening, excepting the near-drowning, that I hardly paid attention to Micheal’s warning. He says the situation is quite dire and insists that I continue with my combat training. Perhaps unadvisedly, I am not worried. I deal with demons. What are a few Russians compared to that?

I suppose that is the end of it, then. I have some business to attend to, and so I shall take my leave.

Your Almost Happy,

–Miss Palabra Puddlegum–

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